Walden Leadville
& Southwestern

The Josephtown Route

A bit of history...

Many mining industries (gold, silver, lead, zinc...) were established in Colorado, in the late 1800's. Several railroad lines were built to serve these industries often located in difficult to reach areas. Josephtown, located in Jackson County was finally reached by the railroad in the early 1900's.

The discovery of a craddonium lode, near what is now Josephtown, convinced foreign investors to build a railroad line from Walden (connection with transcontinental railroads) to a place that will soon become Josephtown. An extension was even projected that would reach Leadville serving several other mining industries on the way.

The Walden - Josephtown section of the line was completed in 1911 and so the Josephtown Route came to life.

Facing several financial crisis at Wall Street and competition from other companies, the WLSW stock holders took the decision to abandon the projected line extension.

Thus the line was ended a few miles before reaching Muddy Pass, on it's way to Kremmling and never reached Leadville.

Today, we are in the fifties and the Josephtown Craddonium Co. remains an active customer of this Short line.

Walden, starting point of the line, is located on an U.P. branch line. So it is not unusual to see U.P motive power reaching Josephtown.

The Josephtown line is truly the kingdom of SW9/1200's, RS2's, RS11's and other GP20's.


Josephtown Craddonium Co.

For a moment, let's have a look at the mine works and its narrow gauge railroad. The railroad line from Walden to Josephtown was built as standard gauge to ease exchanges with the line from Laramie (Wyoming).

But, the operators of the craddonium mine decided, for technical and financial reasons, to build a 2 1/2 ft narrow gauge line. Why a 2 1/2 ft gauge and not a 3 ft gauge as it was common in Colorado in that era?

After many research, I can tell you why. The operators of this mine were of European origin, most of them from France. This track gauge is very close to the 750 mm gauge common in France at that period, for secondary railroads. So the French engineers who took care of building the line choosed to use this gauge and all the rolling equipments were imported from Great Britain and France.

The alignment of this line is not really easy. It is connected to the WLSW in Josephtown.

Just after leaving Josephtown, a branch serves the engine facility. Then the line starts climbing into the mountains with very tight curves to reach a special location : the Wye. This is where trains change direction for short distances, in order to gain altitude quickly. After a few miles, the track finally reaches the craddonium mine. A siding allows the engine to be placed at the other end of the train for the return to Josephtown. A rudimentary hopper delivers the craddonium ore to the ore cars.

The craddonium ore is mined from a lode located more than 1500 ft below ground. But just remember we are here at an altitude of more than 10000 ft.

Some facts about the layout


Fabrice Fayolle
Mail to Fabrice Fayolle

Scale N (1/160th)
Size 1,65 m x 0,90 m
Structure L girders
Track and switches Peco code 55
Minimum radius r=25 cm (10")
Maximum grade 3 %
Layout control DCC

Do you know the Gorre&Daphetid R.R.?

Click to enlarge I didn't wish to throw away my previous layout (the American R.R.), as I did for other layouts. So I modified and adapted it to my new objectives.

The layout is composed of an "8" shaped single track main line, much like the first Gorre&Daphetid R.R. from John Allen. Part of the main line is concealed under a mountain, in the background.

In the foreground is Josephtown yard and freight station. A crossover located at the back of the layout allows trains to stay on the upper line while cars are switched on the lower line. A two track hidden yard, located at the back of the layout, allows storing two 4-6 car freight trains. In the background is Josephtown Craddonium Compagny, the major source of traffic on the line.

When creating our web site, with Jean-Louis Simonet, I discovered DCC. At first, I was reluctant to use this system but a visit to the headquarters of the "Susquehanna Ontario & Western RR" convinced me that it was the way to go. I ventured in that direction, with a Chief system, and would never go back to DC again. I'll tell you my DCC story soon.

But, where is the 2 1/2 ft track? In reality, it is not modeled in N Scale, but rather in O Scale and it is just a small diorama (20x10 in.). It shows the engine facility installations for the mine railroad.

This diorama has been a experiment base for various techniques described in several modeling books. The track is a piece of Oe Peco track (16.5 mm gauge) which is right for 2 1/2 ft track (On30).

The structures and rolling stock come from the Smoky Bottom Lumber Co line which is driven by the nice Richard Denot. The figures come from the Phoenix line. A few pictures of this diorama are visible below (4. The JCCo engine facility).

Electronic Rail Pass

In the 60's, John Allen already distributed Rail Passes to people likely to come and "play" with him on the famous "Gorre & Daphetid RR.

Jim Thompson (The Cashaway Valley Railroad) brought back this custom, proposing "Electronic Rail Passes" for his layout.

Click to request your e-pass

If you wish to receive a WLSW Rail Pass, click on the Rail Pass image above, in order to make an e-mail request.

Some pictures.

(Click on the photos to see them full size and click on the full size photo to close it)

1. Josephtown station
Click to enlarge

Photo #1 (90 Ko)

The station

So much activity for a so small station!!!

Photo #2 (75 Ko)

Departure of the 4 PM freight

Green light for the 4 PM freight, headed by a pair of RS-2's.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #3 (68 Ko)

From another perspective

Josephtown as seen from the yard entrance. In the foreground: one of the industries.

2. Along the line

Photo #4 (52 Ko)

Track maintenance

The track gang is at work, rectifying a low spot on the track while an U.P. switcher is idling on the main, waiting for the repair to be complete.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #5 (63 Ko)

Mountain railroading

A switcher is exiting one of the numerous tunnels the WLSW had to bore to reach Josephtown.

Photo #6 (61 Ko)

Track maintenance (2)

The track maintenance crew is ready to change some ties not far from Josephtown, as soon as this train clears the track.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #7 (47 Ko)

The JCCo train

The 2 1/2 foot gauge track which serves the Craddonium Mine frequently sees JCCo trains.

Photo #8 (52 Ko)

The Mine turn

The Josephtown Craddonium Co. is served by a 2 1/2 foot gauge track for economic reasons.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #9 (46 Ko)

Demo engine

Josephtown greets the Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster demo engine. Some employees has come to watch it closer.

Photo #10 (45 Ko)

Team track

A few barrels have been unloaded on the ramp and the SantaFe box car is waiting for the 4 PM local to pick it up.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #11 (51 Ko)

Some steam...

The old UP Mikado is making it's way towards the bridge that serves as support for some election posters.

Photo #16 (83 Ko)

Sinuous track

A switcher creeps along the numerous curves on its way to Spicer, a few miles ahead.

Click to enlarge
3. Josephtown, downtown and suburbs

Photo #12 (65 Ko)

Secret !

The chemical products required to extract craddonium are hidden in the mountains, safe from prying eyes.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #13 (90 Ko)

Josephtown, downtown

Josephtown downtown is subject to a lot of advertising, while the life is bustling in town.

Photo #14 (54 Ko)

Josephtown saloon

A Frenchman named "Simonet" opened a bar some time ago in Josephtown. Each night, workers from the craddonium mine gather here.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #15 (56 Ko)

The backyard

A GP-7 switching at the back of town. A lot of vibrations for the neighborood! Did you notice the fluid pouring from the pipe? Is the JCCo polluting?

4. JCCo Servicing terminal

Photo #1 (62 Ko)

The shed

This "enginehouse" sheds the line engine of the JCCo. Winters are hard in Colorado.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Photo #2 (59 Ko)

Strange car!!!

Gilbert, the frenchie, at the turntable turning a strange car.

Photo #3 (59 Ko)

Fresh coat of paint !!!

Even the outhouse is entitled to a fresh coat of paint.

Click to enlarge
SOW - 2nd part Free Heaven Harbor Terminal RR

Page created by Fabrice Fayolle
Last update : 04/03/2003
© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 Fabrice Fayolle